The RNC’s Site Selection Committee has recommended Cleveland, Ohio, as the host city of the 2016 Republican National Convention. Cleveland last held a national political convention in 1936, when Kansas governor Alfred Landon defeated Senator William Borah of Idaho for the Republican presidential nomination.
Over the past few months, Cleveland faced stiff competition from over 20 other cities. The field was whittled down between April and July, when Dallas and Cleveland were selected as the two finalists.
The RNC chairman said this morning on Fox News, “We’re excited to be bringing the RNC to Cleveland in 2016” and that Cleveland was “a city on the rise.” In a conference call, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio said the convention would "bring dollars and jobs to Ohio" and that the convention was "an opportunity to showcase our great state."
The potential host cities list for the Democratic National Convention in 2016 has been pared down to Birmingham, Brooklyn, Cleveland, Columbus, Philadelphia, and Phoenix. Cleveland, though, will likely now be dropped.
The RNC’s recommendation of Cleveland is viewed by some as part of a broader strategy to help Republicans win Ohio’s 18 Electoral College votes, something they’ve failed to do since George W. Bush’s reelection in 2004. Ohio’s votes are important, as every president since Lyndon Johnson’s election in 1964 has won Ohio.
Whether conventions have any impact on voter decisions is a source of debate, and the last cycle did not bode well for either party. In 2012, both parties lost the state in which they held their convention—the Democrats in North Carolina, the Republicans in Florida. The Republicans have not held a convention in a state they won on election day since 1992, when the convention was held in Houston, Texas.
Ryan Mahoney, an RNC spokesman, told The New York Times the choice was “a business decision at the end of the day.” Many factors other than politics play a role, but none larger than how much money the city’s host committee promises to raise in funding. Cleveland promised more than $30 million.
In a statement, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said:
The RNC set a new standard for conventions during this process. Not only will the convention be held earlier in 2016, but there are also substantial guarantees in place for funding that put us well ahead of previous conventions and will give our nominee the best opportunity to succeed.
The convention in Cleveland could also impact state races, namely the gubernatorial race this year. The state’s Republican governor, John Kasich, is up for reelection in 2014. His opponent is Democrat Ed FitzGerald, county executive of Cuyahoga County, which encompasses Cleveland entirely. Kasich stands to benefit more than FitzGerald, since it’s unlikely a Democrat will run ads bragging about securing a Republican convention.
The 2016 convention is expected to be held in June or July of 2016, in an effort to avoid repeating a mistake made in 2012, when Republicans held their convention in late August. This delayed the formal naming of Mitt Romney as the GOP nominee and, as such, his access to general election campaign funds.